Alzheimer’s Prevention, Causes and Treatment: How Modern Medical Research is Stepping It Up
As the most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million people in the US and can cause difficulties with speech, problem-solving, thinking and the memory as it attacks the brain. With 60 to 80 percent of all cases of dementia being Alzheimer’s, there’s no question as to why this word strikes fear in anyone who hears it. However, there are ways in which this disease can be slowed down, particularly as ground-breaking advancements in medicine are being achieved.
Who’s Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease?
There are a number of different factors that can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s, with the majority of cases occurring in those aged 65 and over. Once someone reaches the age of 65, the risk of developing this disease doubles every 5 years, creating a high-risk factor for this age group. However, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can be found in those under this age.
Gender is also an uncontrollable factor in this disease as women are more likely to develop this than men. Twice the amount of women aged 65 and over suffer from the disease compared to men, and scientists have ruled out the longer average lifespan of women as the sole cause. Instead, it is believed that this could be connected to menopause and the lack of estrogen (a hormone) produced.
People with family members who have suffered from Alzheimer’s are classed as being at a higher risk but there aren’t any strong links between genetics and this disease.
One factor that is more controllable is health and lifestyle. It is known that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease can be increased in those who are obese (at middle-age), suffer from high cholesterol or high blood pressure, have had heart or stroke problems and suffer from conditions such as diabetes. Those who live a healthy lifestyle, particularly from the middle of their life, are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Modern Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at present; however, there are a number of treatments that can help those suffering from it to live with the condition, and well. This involves various things from activities to drugs, with each treatment offered being dependent on the patient and the severity of their condition.
In Oregon, marijuana has been legal for medical use since 1998. This has given the opportunity for scientists to study medical marijuana patients now for quite some time. Just like in Oregon, trials and studies have also been conducted in other states and Alzheimer’s is one of the diseases that is getting a lot of focus.
One of the treatments that is currently being tested is the use of medical marijuana in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease found that one of the chemicals in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol) can help to slow down the production of certain proteins that are thought to be one of the key factors in Alzheimer’s and it’s progression.
The study observed 11 medical marijuana patients with Alzheimer’s and found that there was a “significant reduction” in the psychological and behavioral symptoms associated with dementia in all 10 of the patients who completed the study.
With these types of treatments continually being discovered, it provides hope for the vast amount of people who are living with this debilitating disease.
Lillian Meyer is a medical researcher who enjoys keeping up with industry breakthroughs and news which she shares with the public in her articles.